I’ve always tried to be as honest and open about my mental health on my blog and my social media channels. I haven’t been as talkative on the subject on my blog in a good few months because, to be honest things aren’t too bad right now. I thought I would share a post on my relationship with my mental health right now as a kind of update and I guess a look into how recovery can be.
This post is inspired by the wonderful Grace from Gracie Franseca as she posted all about her relationship with her body right now. It got me thinking about my own relationship with myself and in particular my mental health. So shout out to her for giving me some inspiration!
~ trigger warnings – anxiety, depression, emetophobia, suicide, panic attacks, ocd, ~
This year is my seventh year of experiencing mental health issues. Seven whole years. In that time, I’ve left school, been to college, been diagnosed with a range of mental health-related issues, developed stomach disorders caused by said mental health, started a blog, in the process of starting my own business and survived many challenging moments.
I was sixteen when I got my first diagnosis of anxiety and depression, but I think I probably started experiencing symptoms when I was fifteen and even throughout my childhood had many moments where the similarities of symptoms have been around.
So how is my relationship with my mental health right now?
I’m doing ok. But I also am prepared for it to not always be this way. And that’s not me being pessimistic or negative, this is more me being real and knowing how the mental health cycle works. The good thing is I’ve been in this place before.
In May 2017 was the first time in years that I finally felt good. I finally felt genuinely happy. I still was experiencing anxiety and depression but I was living and that was the main thing.
You don’t realise until you’re in the depths of the desperation of a mental health crisis how long it has been since you’ve actually felt like you’ve been living and not just surviving.
Being able to live my life was something I hadn’t felt in so long and oh my god, let me tell you, the happiness I felt was indescribable. I was leaving the house again, I was meeting new people, I was hanging out with old friends and reconnecting, I fell in love, I went on trips and on holidays, I was facing my fears and exposing myself to the things that caused me anxiety, I was having more good days than the bad.
I was finally somewhat free and being able to live my life.
And then one night in November 2017 it all came crashing down on me.
I involuntarily faced one of my biggest triggers to date. I’ve suffered from a fear of sick since I was a young child but within the past few years it had developed from an irrational fear into a phobia also known as emetophobia and in November of that year, I was sick for the first time in 11 years.
If you’re familiar with emetophobia, then you will know how deliberating and soul destroying this fear can be. It can consume every single second of your day, not only affecting your feelings but also your thoughts and behaviours. It can stop you from doing so much even the simplest everyday tasks like eating and leaving the house.
It took me just over two weeks to recover from the sickness bug I had caught and this wasn’t because of the physical effects, but more because of the post-traumatic stress I was experiencing after. It was only natural my body would react in such a way after facing one of my fearful situations out of the blue.
There is nothing you can do to stop yourself from being sick if you’re unwell. No matter how much you try to, you have to accept it’s going to happen. You can’t prepare yourself. It can just come out of nowhere just as it did with me.
And because of it being so sudden and taking me completely off guard, 2018 was one of the most challenging years and at times I really struggled to go on because even though I believed I’d get through it, I just didn’t know how I would.
Most of 2018 saw me experiencing many panic attacks, my OCD from 2015 coming back but in a more severe way, avoiding certain situations and triggered situations, struggling to eat at times, not attending events, an increase in my medication, my health anxiety getting so much worse and a real rollercoaster of emotional trauma.
But I don’t blame myself for any of it. Because my mind and body weren’t prepared. My mind and body didn’t know how to react. They were just reacting out of fear because they hadn’t yet learnt how to handle the situation as an adult. The inner child hadn’t been healed or given the care it had needed yet.
And the trauma that came after for most of last year, it was my body and minds way of trying to process and get through what had happened.
I had to start over.
You might also like – the lessons I’ve learned in 2018
But this time, even though I was so scared and struggled to continue sometimes, I know I could get back to a good place, because I had already done it once before, I was living proof now that I could get better, I had the experience now, I had the belief behind me, I just had to be patient and trust that I could get there.
And I feel like I have somewhat got back on that journey.
The past few months have been ok. I have experienced more good days than bad. I have still experienced anxiety, I still live with OCD on a daily basis, I still have my stomach issues, there are situations I need to work on and face, I still feel incredibly low at times, but everything is at a manageable pace.
I’m enjoying my blog and setting up my business, I’m managing to make the time to live more slowly and look after myself, I’ve started working out, I’m trying to be a better person to the people around me, I’m taking my medication and attending therapy, I’m doing things at my own pace.
And the best thing about is that I’m looking after me. I’m being there for myself. I’m nurturing that part of me that is scared, that is worried, that is apprehensive for the future. I’m giving myself time to have a breather from constantly pushing myself to face so much all in one go.
I’m going right back to basics and taking each day as it comes. I’m taking small steps. I’m learning how to deal with being triggered and changing how I react so I don’t become consumed or overwhelmed with what’s going on. I’m being gentle and kind to myself.
I’m being more accepting and welcoming of those parts of me that are vulnerable, I’m letting those negative feelings sit there and let them be. I’m making myself feel more comfortable with them being there rather than pushing them out. They’re just the parts of me that want to be listened to so I’m opening myself up to them.
I know my relationship with my mental health won’t always be perfect. There will be times when I get frustrated at it and wish it away. But there are also many times where I can stand up and be ok with it being there because it’s part of me, it doesn’t define me and I would much rather befriend it than push it out pretending it doesn’t or can’t exist.
Because it does exist. My relationship with my mental health is my relationship. And I’m working on it.
How is your relationship with your mental health right now?